The internet of things (IoT) presents a mixed bag for companies, with many seeing it primarily as a way to save costs, and others seeing it as a revenue-generator.
That’s according to CompTIA’s “2019 Trends in Internet of Things” report, which gauges the current state of play for commercial deployment of IoT offerings. Some 500 U.S. companies were surveyed on their current and future plans for IoT.
About one in three (35 percent) see it as a way to save costs, while roughly another one in three (31 percent) see it as a revenue-generator. The remaining firms expect to see a mix of cost savings and new revenue.
Potential sources of new revenue could include increased production, monetizing data or creating product-as-a-service offerings.
“This recognition that IoT is not simply a tool for cost savings, but a potential source of new revenue, is mirrored by our finding that for a majority of companies, funding for IoT projects often comes from places other than the IT department,” said Seth Robinson, CompTIA’s senior director for technology analysis. “This demonstrates not only the importance of IoT to future strategy, but the companywide impact IoT tends to have.”
Regardless of where the funding comes from, companies acknowledge they are challenged by determining the return on their investment in IoT. Nearly six in 10 say it will be very difficult or moderately difficult to make that return on investment (ROI) calculation, while more than four in 10 (43 percent) say upfront costs are a major hurdle. One in three (34 percent) cite ongoing costs as an issue.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for internal IT teams or external technology partners to lead the discussion on ROI,” Robinson said. “As technology plays a more strategic role for organizations, investments should be evaluated more in terms of a growth mindset, looking at the overall return to the business.”
Beyond cost considerations, the report identifies other critical factors must be addressed for IoT projects to succeed. Many pieces must come together to build a successful IoT implementation. These include: the hardware “things” themselves; software for connecting and orchestrating activities; rules and standards to enable mass adoption; and services to deliver the value of the new data that’s being generated. Few companies feel they have high expertise in any of these areas, according to CompTIA.
Beyond the emergence of new job roles such as IoT architects and IoT security specialists, companies likely will need to upgrade existing technology skills in cloud computing, networking and security. In fact, security tops the list of critical skills needed for IoT, as identified by companies in the study. Data management and analysis, networking, device support, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) also are viewed as skills critical to IoT success.
As any new innovation takes hold, the security stakes are raised. IoT companies will face a monumental challenge: applying digital security to processes that have never before been digitized. Six in 10 companies said cybersecurity should be the priority in IoT deployments, while approximately one in four (24 percent) said they would prioritize innovation over security.